Becoming a Baking and Pastry Chef in Wisconsin
A career in baking and pastry arts is easy to attain if you’re willing to put in some time for learning and training. It does not require a four-year degree or expensive tuition. Find a local program in your area, and within a year or two you’ll be ready to land a job.
Baking and pastry chefs are culinary professionals who work in restaurants, bakeries, pastry shops, hotels and resorts, and even as private chefs. They develop and make delicious desserts and baked goods. It’s a career that is increasingly in demand in Wisconsin and that will allow you to be creative on the job and to make people happy.
What is Required to Become a Pastry Chef in Wisconsin
You do not have to meet any specific state requirements to begin working in this field in Wisconsin. Requirements are determined by individual employers, but there are some basic factors that most will consider when hiring baking and pastry chefs:
- You should have a minimum of a high school diploma or GED.
- Some employers will hire you out of high school and provide on-the-job training in pastry arts.
- It is possible to start at the bottom in the kitchen, to learn and train, and work your way up to a chef position.
- Some employers prefer to hire chefs with a certificate, diploma or degree in baking and pastry arts. These programs typically take two years or less to complete.
Wisconsin Baking and Pastry Chef Programs
While it is possible to land a job and train until you are prepared to work in baking and pastry arts, most employers prefer that you have some related education before being hired. Many vocational, community and career colleges offer programs in baking and pastry. Here are some examples in Wisconsin:
- Madison Area Technical College, Madison. Madison offers students interested in a chef career two options. You can earn a two-year degree in culinary arts, which includes a comprehensive curriculum. This could land you a job in a kitchen, from which you can train in pastry and baking. Another option at Madison is a one-year technical diploma in baking and decorative arts. This option includes 1,000 hours of work experience. The curriculum is focused more on baking than pastry arts.
- Milwaukee Area Technical College, Milwaukee. At the downtown Milwaukee campus you have the option to earn an associate degree in baking and pastry arts. This will truly prepare you to begin working in the industry, but it takes two years to complete. You will take general education courses as well as culinary courses and work experience credits.
Certification for Baking and Pastry Chefs
Wisconsin does not require that baking and pastry chefs hold any certification. But, getting certified through the American Culinary Federation (ACF) may help you get a job, advance in your career or earn a higher salary. ACF is the most recognized organization for culinary certifications. For baking and pastry arts, consider the following certifications:
- Pastry cook
- Pastry culinarian
- Working pastry chef
- Executive pastry chef
- Master pastry chef
Getting certified in any of these areas requires that you have a certain number of educational hours or credits. You must also pass an exam.
Career Outlook and Salaries
Growth in careers for culinary arts, and for chefs in particular, is strong nationwide. The growth is 11 percent, higher than average job growth, across the U.S. In Wisconsin, the growth is 10.4 percent, with about 300 new openings in the profession available each year.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that average wages for chefs across all states is $48,460 per year and $23.30 per hour. For Wisconsin, the BLS reports average salaries of $47,210 annually and $22.70 hourly. You can earn more depending on the employer, your years of experience and certification level. Executive pastry chefs tend to earn more.
Beginning a Baking and Pastry Arts Career in Wisconsin
The most opportunities for jobs in the culinary industry can be found in the state’s biggest population centers: Milwaukee, Madison, Green Bay and Kenosha. Most chefs are employed in restaurants, but look also for positions in hotels and resorts, cafeterias, amusement parks and catering companies.
Some of the recent job postings in the state for baking and pastry chefs include a range of employers and locations: The Waterfront Restaurant in La Crosse; Panera Bread in Milwaukee; The Madison Club in Madison; and Chula Vista Resort in Wisconsin Dells.